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All agency workers have new pay rights from next week, Bruton confirms

The move has been welcomed by unions but faced criticism from employers – who claim it will put jobs at risk.

Agency nurses will be among those to win new pay rights from Monday
Agency nurses will be among those to win new pay rights from Monday
Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

JOBS MINISTER RICHARD Bruton has confirmed that laws giving equal pay rights to agency workers will apply immediately from the beginning of next week.

The confirmation comes after the breakdown of talks between employers’ organisations and unions this week, with IBEC accusing unions of vetoing the discussions.

It’s understood employers were seeking a derogation by which workers would have to be employed for a certain period before gaining the same pay rights as directly employed staff.

Minister Bruton said it was a matter of regret that the discussions had broken down. The Government is unable to impose the legislation, as it must be agreed by all the social partners.

From Monday, all temporary agency workers – believed to be around 35,000 people or two per cent of the workforce – will become entitled to the same pay and conditions as directly employed staff.

Legislation outlining the details has not yet been published, but the Government has said it will enforce equality in basic pay, shift premiums, overtime, pension payments, and sick pay.

The immediate introduction of the measure has come under fire from employers’ organisation IBEC. Its director Brendan McGinty said the move would endanger jobs.

“The Minister’s plan is flawed and puts at risk large numbers of agency jobs,” he said. “We will not know until after the legislation has been enacted what true liability, hirers and agencies have in respect of agency workers.”

He said Monday’s change should apply only to agency workers beginning new assignments.

However, the move has been welcomed by unions, including the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

“This is a very good day for agency workers,” INMO director of industrial relations Phil Ni Sheaghdha said. “The INMO has long argued that agency nurses and midwives are entitled to equality with directly employed nurses and midwives.”

Read more: Unions rule out agreement with Bruton over agency staff conditions delay>

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Michael Freeman

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